Every weekday we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, or high-demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from January 25–29 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Monday January 25
Andy Warhol was a Hoarder, by Claudia Kalb
Science- and health-journalist Kalb selects a dozen notable historical figures, applies diagnostic tools pulled from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to their unique personality traits, and produces a diverting reader’s digest of biographies that focus not so much on their lives but on their quirks. Although she acknowledges that mental illness and genius might seem mutually exclusive, she also makes a strong case supporting the fact that occasionally mental illness can actually enhance brilliance.
Tuesday January 26
Free Verse, by Sarah Dooley
Five, seven, five—the pattern of haiku—is the combination for Sasha to open the door to her poetic self. The 13-year-old lives in Caboose, West Virginia, and if it wasn’t for bad luck, she’d have no luck at all: her mother walked away, her father died in the mines, and her brother was killed in the line of fire, leaving foster mom Phyllis to do her best with egg-salad sandwiches served on the porch at four in the morning. Sasha, meanwhile, tries to manage her desperate life, but blackout rages keep setting her back.
Wednesday January 27
Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith
Sports historians Roberts (Rising Tide, 2013) and Smith (The Sons of Westwood, 2013) delve deeply into the little-known intricacies and tragic consequences of the close bond between the mentoring Nation of Islam minister Malcolm X and the young boxer Cassius Clay. As the authors tell the gripping personal stories of these two passionate revolutionaries and seekers, they cover with both anecdotal panache and analytical insight Clay’s genius for audacious self-promotion and strategic self-concealment, and Malcolm X’s dream of resolving his increasingly dire conflict with the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad by bringing Clay and his burgeoning international fame fully into the fold.
Thursday January 28
Booked, by Kwame Alexander
Nick doesn’t think he is extraordinary, but it is true that he and his best friend, Coby, are stupendous soccer players. In addition, Nick’s dad has written a dictionary, which means that Nick has a vocabulary that stupefies ordinary 12-year-olds. And there’s the fact that the lovely April seems to like him. Abruptly, however, Nick’s life crumbles when his mom announces she is leaving home to take a job in Kentucky, and a ruptured appendix lands Nick in the hospital, keeping him from playing in a prestigious soccer tournament. It sucks.
Friday January 29
Deep Blue, by Randy Wayne White
Something is going on in White’s long-running, ever-popular Doc Ford series. It’s as if a screw or two has come loose from whatever keeps Ford’s bifurcated life in sync—he’s a mild-mannered marine biologist by day and a black-ops assassin by night—and now one side of his world is colliding with the other. It starts with Ford in Central America, assigned to kill an ISIS assassin; there is collateral damage, unfortunately, and soon the doc finds himself in the crosshairs of a crazed, geeky hacker right out of a Bond novel.